Debutants Olexandriya are eager for a first victory to keep alive their qualifying hopes as they host a Wolfsburg side who have not won since Matchday 1.
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Group stage debutants Olexandriya have drawn their last three matches but will be eager for a first victory to keep alive their qualifying hopes as they host a Wolfsburg side who have not won since Matchday 1 but could secure a place in the knockout phase if they complete the double over their Ukrainian hosts.
• Olexandriya lost their opening Group I fixture 3-1 in Wolfsburg but have since held Gent once (1-1 h) and Saint-Étienne twice (1-1 a, 2-2 h), an added-time equaliser from substitute Maksym Zaderaka salvaging a point against the French side last time out. The German club also drew on Matchdays 2 (1-1 at St-Étienne) and 3 (2-2 at Gent) but lost 1-3 at home to the Belgian side in their most recent fixture, a result that dropped them three points behind their conquerors but not out of the top two.
• A defeat will end Olexandriya's hopes of reaching the knockout phase, while a win for Wolfsburg coupled with a draw or defeat for St-Étienne at home to Gent will send the German side through with a game to spare.
• Wolfsburg had never previously faced Ukrainian opponents in UEFA competition, nor had Olexandriya come against a club from Germany, until Matchday 1, when goals from Maximilian Arnold, Admir Mehmedi and Josip Brekalo helped the German side to a 3-1 home win, the visitors' historic first group stage goal coming from midfielder Yevhen Banada.
• Olexandriya finished third in the 2018/19 Ukrainian Premier League – the club's highest ever final placing – to gain direct access to the UEFA Europa League group stage and sample European football in the autumn for the first time.
• This is only the club's third European campaign, their 2016/17 debut having ended in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round (against Hajduk Split), the second, in 2017/18, concluding in the play-offs (against BATE Borisov). Their only European victory came against Astra Giurgiu in the 2017/18 third qualifying round (0-0 a, 1-0 h).
• Olexandriya's home record in Europe is W1 D2 L2, with four goals scored and seven conceded. They had scored one goal in six successive European encounters, home and away, before striking twice last time out against St-Étienne.
• A sixth-placed finish in last season's Bundesliga ensured Wolfsburg direct entry into the group stage and a first European campaign since they reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in 2015/16.
• The German club are competing in the UEFA Europa League group stage for a second time, their 2014/15 campaign having ended in the quarter-finals at the hands of Napoli. They also reached the last eight in the competition's inaugural 2009/10 season having finished third in their UEFA Champions League section.
• Quarter-finalists therefore in each of their last three European campaigns, Wolfsburg are unbeaten in their last seven UEFA Europa League away fixtures (W3 D4), drawing the last three. Their overall away record in the competition is W3 D6 L2, both defeats having come in England.
Links and trivia
• Mehmedi, Wolfsburg's Swiss international forward, played in Ukraine for Dynamo Kyiv from 2012–13.
• Olexandriya are one of six UEFA Europa League group stage debutants this season; the others are Espanyol, Ferencváros, Wolverhampton Wanderers and two Austrian clubs, LASK and Wolfsberg. The Ukrainian side are the only one of the six yet to register a win.
• Wolfsburg ended a run of four successive defeats in all competitions by winning 2-0 at fellow UEFA Europa League participants Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga last weekend.
• A one-cap Ukrainian international midfielder who won two domestic league titles with Dynamo Kyiv in the early 1990s, Volodymyr Sharan has been the Olexandriya coach for the best part of a decade, a first spell, lasting two years, preceding a brief stint at Karpaty Lviv before he returned in 2013 and steered the club into the Ukrainian top flight two years later. He has since qualified Olexandriya for the UEFA Europa League on three occasions, their third-place finish in 2018/19 securing a first experience of group stage football.
• Austrian coach Oliver Glasner signed a three-year contract in the spring of 2019 to succeed Bruno Labbadia at Wolfsburg. He arrived in Germany with a growing reputation having led LASK Linz to a runners-up spot in the Austrian Bundesliga just two seasons after steering the club to promotion from the second tier. A former centre-back, Glasner spent virtually his entire career with Ried, with whom he won the Austrian Cup twice, in 1998 and 2011. He also spent a season as the club's coach before joining LASK in 2015.